Where Do I Recycle My…


I get asked almost every single day about where certain things can be recycled. Usually when we are organizing, some things that are clutter are really items looking for a way to get into the recycling stream.

When you are done organizing, where to take items for recycling:

Eyeglasses: The Lions Club takes old sunglasses and prescription glasses for recycling. If you can’t find a Lions Club drop box, check your local Walmart, where you’ll find a bin like this in their on-site eye care center.

where to recycle eyeglasses

Electronics: Best Buy. They have a great recycling program that will take any kind of computer equipment or portable electronics, including phones and old fax machines. They may or may not charge you $10 for anything with a screen, but last I knew, they were still giving you a $10 gift card in those cases, so it’s a wash. They take everything else without a fee. The other place to take electronics is Goodwill Industries. They have a responsible recycling partnership with Dell, and will take working or non-working electronics, even your old boxy TV.

Beanie Babies: Remember when you thought they were going to make you a millionaire? Sadly, there are very few places that accept stuffed animals. I recommend dropping them off at your nearest Goodwill. If you are troubled by this, please read my post on the economics of selling vs. donating.

Books: Many libraries (not all) take in gently used books. For example, Radnor library accepts donations of children’s and adult books. They have a huge sale twice a year, which funds many programs and improvements. It’s a win for everyone. If your local library doesn’t do this, call the one in the next town over.

Magazines: Yes, you might find a library or two to take them, but really, for all the effort that will take, I recommend sending them out to the curb with your regular recycling. All of the haulers that I have checked in the greater Philly region accept magazines (nothing with a hard bound cover) in their paper recycling stream.

Textbooks: Your old college texts are not saleable. Sorry. Recent college texts are, and you can check at http://www.cash4books.net/. Unfortunately, any place that you might want to donate your old textbooks to overseas will request that you pay shipping, and that can get very pricey. If you tear the hard covers off your old texts, the inside pages can go in your regular curbside recycling bin.

Toys: I love my local thrift shops, and they love getting quality items to resell. But if you are going to pass along toys, please be sure they have all of their parts and are in good condition. Impact Thrift Store is a great Philly area charity that takes toys. Some toys may be appropriate for service organizations like Cradles to Crayons, but please check your organization’s guidelines before you donate. Goodwill, Purple Heart, and Salvation Army  also take most types of toys.

Cribs: Due to the problems with recalls in recent years, no one wants used cribs. Sorry. Look on Pinterest for ideas to repurpose your crib, or take it to the curb. Please don’t save it for your grandbaby. You love them enough to want them to have the safest gear possible, right?

Medical gear (crutches, bathing seats, wheelchairs): I know some people have an issue with giving things to Goodwill, but really, they are the Target of secondhand stuff. They’ve worked very hard to create partnerships that benefit everyone, including those who need to dispose of and who need to obtain low cost medical supplies. Anything that makes it easier to move the stuff along means that it can be out of your closet faster and off to someone who needs it more.

Hearing Aids: http://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/hear-now.php Be sure to ask if the original local retailer has a recycling program.

Batteries – rechargeable: All the major home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes) have drop boxes for these items.

Batteries – non rechargeable: These are a bit more tricky. You can bag them and take them to your county hazmat drop off that takes place throughout the year. You can also request a bag to mail them to Waste Management at Think Green From Home, periodically. Whole Foods stores and IKEA no longer take batteries in my area.

Cell phones: Many retailers, including Target, have small component electronics recycling.  (See photo of Target’s recycling bins)  These do change often, so keep an eye out where you shop often.

CFL Lightbulbs: The list constantly changes on these, so check the latest with the EPA.  Many retailers, like HomeDepot, have drop boxes for them.

Drugs: National Drug Takeback Day happens once a year, usually in the fall. In 2012, it will be September 29. If you missed it, you can check with local pharmacies. Many, but not all, will now take back meds. Target Pharmacies list this info on their website: Target stores carry Take Away Environmental Return System bags. These bags allow you to mail most unused medications directly to a location for appropriate disposal.

Plastic shopping bags, dry cleaning plastic, newspaper plastic sleeves: This is called ”film plastic” in the industry and should not go in with curbside recycling. It can, however, be recycled. Many retail grocery stores and big box retailers have bins in the front of the store. Plastic is THE MOST recyclable product out there, so if you get it back to a collection point, it will be recycled. Check at your favorite grocery store.

Baby formula/food, and food in general: If it is unopened and unexpired, please take it to your nearest Food Bank or Food Pantry. Google either term and your city or county for the closest. In case you are wondering, food pantries are distribution points that are sometimes fed by and often augment the work done by the larger food banks. Here in Philly, Philabundance is a big name in hunger resources, but there are probably others closer to you.

Large appliances and gas grills: First, check with your local hauler or municipality. Many have metals recycling in place already. Even non-working appliances are sometimes claimed by folks like those on CraigsList.com or Freecycle.Org, sometimes to repair and sometimes to turn in for scrap metal.

Glue sticks: Who knew? http://www.recyclescene.com/how-to-recycle/recycle-glue-sticks

Keys: Check out this program. http://www.recyclescene.com/how-to-recycle/key-recycling If you aren’t close enough for this to be practical, you can always have your local locksmith or hardware store cut old keys in half for you, then add them to your metal recycling pile. Dayton Locks in Wayne will take them, and I’m happy to drop them for you as part of our projects together.

Flags: The Boy Scouts have a program where they take in and respectfully destroy US flags that are past their prime. I often see bins for collection at area libraries and township buildings. Reportedly, many American Legion Posts will also help you out with this. This is another single item that I will often take and drop for you at no charge.

Wire hangers: Try your favorite dry cleaner first. Some will recycle or reuse them; some will not. Call your hauler to see if you can include them in curbside single-stream recycling; some programs do not want them. You could add it to a pile for metal recycling.

Everything else: Check the Donation & Recycling Guide. I try to keep it updated, so feel free to let me know if you know of or if you are an organization that accepts donations. If you are up for a little road trip, you can take many other items up to Recycling Services, Inc. in Pottstown. I haven’t been there-yet- but I hear it is a happening place. www.Earth911.org is a great resource. If you feel your stuff still has a useful life, try www.Freecycle.org.

Darla DeMorrow is a Wayne, PA mom, professional organizer and author. This post was adapted from her blog  Heartwork Organizing.



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